Shire throws support behind RFDS base

Glenn CordingleyBroome Advertiser
An RFDS plane. File picture.
Camera IconAn RFDS plane. File picture. Credit: Broome Advertiser

The Shire of Broome has agreed to explore opportunities to help fund a $20 million Royal Flying Doctor base at the town airport through its economic advisory development group.

The Commonwealth has already committed $2.7 million to the project.

The RFDS currently has a funding request with the State Government and was "confident" of receiving a response shortly.

Shire president Graeme Campbell said the council endorsed the proposal to establish a base in Broome, subject to meeting the statutory planning requirements.

"Council has also agreed to advocate the project and to let relevant stakeholders, including the Government, know of the Shire's support for the proposal," he said.

"The issue of fundraising for the completion of the project was raised as an issue to be dealt with through the economic development advisory group of council."

The new base would require two hangars, a patient transfer area, expansion of the existing fleet by two aircraft and having them medically outfitted as well as sourcing offices, parking and accommodation for staff.

The RFDS base in Derby would continue to operate.

The 2002 WA Country Health Service determination that Broome Hospital would be the regional hospital for the Kimberley region has resulted in the majority specialist medical services transferred from Derby to Broome.

This has created the need to establish a base in Broome in addition to Derby.

A 41 per cent increase in the total number of Kimberley patients transported in the past five years, coupled with significant transfer growth into and out of Broome with fewer people taken to Derby, has created the need for the additional base.

Mr Campbell said the Patient Administered Travel Scheme, which subsidises travel for regional patients needing to attend specialist medical appointments more than 100km from their homes, added to the need for a new base in Broome.

"This is an initiative in association with WA Country Health where the Flying Doctor will be conducting activities on the part of WACH, and relates to areas such as Patient Assisted Travel Scheme, and transfers to and from a regional hospital, which Broome has," he said.

"The project encompasses using the services of jet aircraft with feeder-in services from across the Kimberley by way of prop aircraft and smaller jets.

"It must be said, the Derby part of the RFDS operation is critical to the overall scheme."

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